Tuesday, 20 Apr 2021

China’s rapid sea power rise ‘concerning’ as US refuses to halt South China Sea operations

East China Sea: Expert says 'alarm bells raised' in Tokyo

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The US Navy has expressed concern about the surge in power of China’s maritime military forces. However, Washington affirmed it would continue to oppose China’s activities across the Asia-Pacific. A report on China’s growing military power, released by the Pentagon in 2020, found that Beijing had made concerning advances in its military technology.

The report stated: “China has already achieved parity with, or even exceeded, the United States in several military modernization areas.

“These areas included shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and integrated air defense systems.”

US Navy Assistant Chief of Information Commander Courtney Hillson speaking to Newsweek said: “The entirety of People’s Liberation Army Navy growth in both capacity and capability is concerning.”

Commander Hillson added that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force would also be used to enforce Chinese interests in contested territories Beijing claims.

The most hotly contested area is the South China Sea region.

She said: “China deploys a multilayered fleet that includes the PLAN, the China Coast Guard, and the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia.

“They also deploy naval auxiliaries disguised as civilian vessels to undermine other nations’ sovereignty and enforce unlawful claims.

“It continues to coerce vital resources from the exclusive economic zones of other nations.

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“Beijing also militarises disputed features in the South China Sea, and is developing the world’s largest missile force.”

Commander Hillson said the US Navy would continue to deploy its vessels to the South China Sea.

Washington is committed to pushing back against Beijing’s efforts to control the region.

China has established many military installations on contested reefs, and islets in the disputed maritime region.

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She said: “The United States Navy continues to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.

“We are working with allies and partners to confront China’s malign behaviour.

“We will deter and contest China’s attempts to incrementally undermine a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The US said it would act to ensure international “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea.

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